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Why Aging Is A Barrier To Weight Loss

Why Aging Is A Barrier To Weight Loss post image

With aging we gain more weight, but scientists think there is a way to battle this.

Despite eating less and remaining active, maintaining weight is hard for people as they age.

The cause is partly down to lipid turnover, which is the rate of storing or removing fat-like substances.

The maintenance or depletion of white adipose tissue (WAT) is controlled by lipid turnover.

Lipids, such as fatty acids, are stored in WAT or white fats to be used as energy when the body needs fuel.

With aging, the rate of lipid removal in white fats will slow down, resulting in accumulation of body fat.

This is why it is easy to put on weight and difficult to get rid of it when people are older.

Researchers in Sweden have examined the impact of lipid turnover on fat cells in a group of adults for over 13 years.

During this period, they saw a decline in lipid turnover in the fat tissue for all the participants no matter if they lost weight or put on weight.

Those who didn’t compensate and eat the same level of calories as when they were young, showed, on average, a 20 percent increase in weight.

Studies have shown that more exercise and increased physical activity will accelerate lipid turnover in fat tissue.

This new study also supports the beneficial effect of exercise by measuring lipid turnover in women after bariatric surgery.

They found that weight loss after this kind of surgery will last long-term when combined with higher physical activity.

Professor Peter Arner, the study’s first author, said:

“The results indicate for the first time that processes in our fat tissue regulate changes in body weight during ageing in a way that is independent of other factors.

This could open up new ways to treat obesity.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.


The study was published in Nature Medicine (Arner et al., 2019).